The card on the left is from the most well-known and often used decks in the world of tarot called the Rider-Waite. I’ll be using the images and traditional meanings from this deck to discuss tarot in the Learn Tarot with Harry Potter series. The artwork on the right belongs to Jessica Roux Illustration.
Traditional Meaning of The Magician
When we look at the Magician card we notice several things. A man is standing alone before a table, making a confident, wide gesture with his hands. In his right hand he is holding a powerful wand pointing upwards, while his left hand point downwards. He is wearing robes that evoke power and mystery. Above his head is an infinity sign, sitting almost like a halo. In front of him, his magickal tools are laid out; a cup/chalice, a staff, a sword, and a pentacle. Above him hang beautiful green vines and vibrant red roses, and below him are the same, with the addition of white lilies.
The Magician is a card of magick and manifestation, but even more than that, the Magician speaks to us about purpose, drive, and resourcefulness. The Magician is clever, he is the chess master, moving the pieces around on the board in order to achieve his goal. He uses the tools of his trade to aid him in his quest, and while he also uses intelligence and skill, it is his determination and willingness to take action that sets him apart and makes him able to manifest what others can’t. He tells us to set our sights on a singular purpose and take action to achieve it. If we want something in life, we often must use the tools we have in front of us to get it. We have to believe it is possible, but more than that, we have to act. We have to tap into that powerful, maybe almost spiritual part of ourselves, and believe that what we dream about, what we thinking about, will become our reality when we move towards it with practical actions. We must use our strengths, skills, and trust our internal guidance in order to achieve our goals.
Albus Dumbledore as The Magician
Using the description above, Albus Dumbledore is the perfect representation of The Magician from the Harry Potter series. From our very first introduction to him in Privet Drive on the night of Harry’s birth, to the train station at the end of book seven, Dumbledore is the consummate wizard, using his intelligence and power to achieve his purpose.
Look at the image of Dumbledore above. What do we notice? He is seated in his office in front of a desk. In his hand is a wand, books, a parchment and quill, the Pensieve, a lighter, glass vials, his special pocket watch, and what look like his favorite candy, lemondrops. Fawkes stands behind him. He is wearing his signature blue wizard robes, and on top of his head is his wizard’s hat. Although not identical, the similarities with the Magician card are there. This image of Dumbledore reinforces his connection with the Magician card – we see that he is wise, powerful, connected to the magickal realm, practical, and most importantly, that he takes action. He absolutely contemplates things first, but even the amount of tools on his desk show that he is actively searching for something, not simply sitting there passing the time.
Dumbledore’s singular purpose in the books is to defeat Voldemort, and almost to his character’s detriment, he never waivers from this goal. I say this because as readers, many of us were shocked and a little dismayed by the realization that Dumbledore cultivated a relationship with Harry in part, to train him for the sacrifice he was going to have to make in the end. But, just as a Magician (or us in our own lives) must make hard choices and sacrifices to manifest our goals, Dumbledore had to do this hard thing in order to realize his purpose.
This is his overarching purpose, but what about on a smaller scale? Dumbledore fits the bill of the Magician here too. His office is full of magickal tools he uses – such as the Deluminator (formerly known as the Put-Outer), the Sorting Hat, the Pensieve, the talking portraits, books, and other “whirring” “silver instruments“. He always seems to be pondering a deeper question, and as we see in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, he has followed his intuition regarding the Horcruxes and has been able to piece together information to share with Harry. Dumbledore is known for his encouragement to the students, especially Harry, to use their strengths and to believe in their abilities, just as the Magician card urges us to do. Dumbledore is an inventor, a leader, and a traveler. He moves freely in the books, even when it seems impossible.
By far, the most Magician-like quality that Dumbledore represents is his mastermind status. Even in death, even from beyond death, Dumbledore is the ultimate source of wisdom, the ultimate mastermind, manifesting the reality that he thinks is most beneficial. Harry may be the “chosen one”, but Dumbledore, like the Magician card, IS the number one character in the books, in the sense that it is really him who steers the story and most of what happens in them from behind the scenes. An example of this is the backbone of Deathly Hallows…Ron, Harry, and Hermione chase the Horcruxes because Dumbledore essentially instructed them to – after death.
How Dumbledore as The Magician Helps Us Read Tarot
Dumbledore as the Magician helps us read tarot because as we think about the way he function in the books’ storylines, we can think about the way we function in our own life stories. Let’s look at a few questions about Dumbledore with the themes of the Magician card in mind:
- What is Dumbledore’s ‘singular purpose’ in the books? Why is he so obsessed with this goal?
- What does Dumbledore sacrifice to attain completion of his purpose?
- How does Dumbledore embody the Magician traits of both spiritual awareness and practical action?
- How does Dumbledore use the tools at his disposal to achieve his goals?
- How does Dumbledore function as a conduit between Harry, Voldemort, and the wizarding world in general?
How We Can Ask These Same Questions of Ourselves
As we ponder the above questions about Dumbledore, we can turn these questions towards ourselves. This is helpful as a fun way to self-reflect, but more importantly, if we contemplate these questions, we can tie them into any tarot reading where the Magician comes up. Whether it is for yourself or a querent, think about these questions when the Magician shows himself in a reading:
- What is your singular purpose or ultimate goal? How ferocious is your desire for this purpose to be realized? What makes you so focused on this goal?
- What might you have to sacrifice to attain completion of your goal? And how will you handle these difficult choices?
- How tuned-in with the spiritual world do you feel? What does your connection look like?
- What practical actions are you planning to take to realize your purpose?
- What tools/skills/training/knowledge do you have at your disposal to aid you in the quest?
- How does your purpose of goal fit into the bigger picture of your life, the lives of those close to you, and possibly even the world?
This post should get your started thinking about the Magician, how Dumbledore functions as the Magician in Harry Potter, and how you can function as the Magician in your own life. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear any observations you have from the stories or in how this helped you read the Magician card in tarot!
Next week we will explore Sybill Trelawney as card number II, The High Priestess.
Listen to the podcast episode of Dumbledore as The Magician :